Children and Money

3 Money Myths Parents Need to Stop Believing

3 Money Myths Parents Need to Stop Believing

Many of you cheered the news that financial literacy may soon be coming to our children’s schools. But don’t think for a minute that lets parents (or grandparents, aunts and uncles, godparents, etc) off the hook. In fact, I’m hoping by making financial literacy a part of our children’s education, it means money is no longer a taboo family topic.

Parents, whether by deliberate choice or simple unawareness, can no longer avoid talking about money when their child comes home and starts asking some uncomfortable questions.

are we in debt?, What are your goals? How much money are you savings? Do you use credit cards because we have no money?

Are you prepared to answer these questions and dialogue with your kids on how to make smart money decisions? Or will you tell them it’s none of their business and change the topic?

Many parents have told me they wished their parents would have talked to them about money when they were young. But they didn’t, which led to many poor money decisions, little savings and a lot of debt as adults. This cycle needs to stop. The first step to breaking this pattern begins by no longer believing in old myths.

1. We Don’t Want Our Kids to Know About Our Money Mistakes.

I have no doubt that you have money skeletons in your closet, but guess what? So does everyone else. We are human beings and we make mistakes. Period. You may not be proud of some of your previous money decisions, but hopefully you learned/are learning from them and most importantly—don’t want your children to repeat them. But if you don’t share your mistakes and what you learned, they won’t know how to avoid repeating your mistakes.

I cannot guarantee that sharing your money mistakes will prevent your children from making them too. But what I do know is that you have now planted your voice and opinion within their subconscious, which may cause them to slow down and remember the outcome of your money mistakes when they are confronted with similar circumstances. It’s been many years since my father first started his money lessons with me over dinner, but I still hear his voice when I make decisions. Your opinions carry real weight.

2. Kids Find Money Boring and Don’t Want to Learn About It.

Actually the opposite has been my experience. I have spoken to groups of elementary school children to high school seniors and they were all eager to learn about money. Most kids want to be heard and have some measure of independence. Money gives them both. When you teach kids how to save, spend and share, you give them a voice and control over their money.

Most kids have no problem spending (who doesn’t?) but I’m regularly astounded by their willingness to save and share once they understand the reason behind doing so. The more children handle money, the better they become at making smart decisions with their money. Kids have no problem spending mom and dad’s money, but when it comes to their own, they tend to take their time and weigh their options, particularly after making a few bad decisions.

3. There is No Curriculum Available to Help Us Teach Our Kids.

Au contraire, my friends. Thanks to the internet, there is a ton of information and tools at your fingertips. But even then, you start with the basics. What can you do with your money? You can save it, spend it and share it (add invest it for older children). How do you decide what to do with your money? You set goals so when you find something else you want, you can compare it against your goals, giving you a reason to say “no”. You teach them to differentiate between a “want” and “need” and how to prioritize needs over wants. As they grow older, you start teaching more complex financial concepts, such as budgeting, running a household and investing.

You can find a variety of tips and advice to help you talk to your children about money throughout The Heavy Purse blog. My downloadable e-workbooks also provide age-based curriculum for you to teach your children.

You may not feel like an expert today, and that is okay. You have an opportunity to educate yourself and seek help where appropriate. Invite your kids to join you, as you improve your own financial literacy and journey towards financial independence. It will be a fun, enlightening ride, and your children’s future will be brighter because of it.

Shannon

The Heavy Purse Store is now open! My new downloadable Money Club Workbooks are now on sale. Each workbook provides five targeted lessons to help you raise Financially Confident Kids. Please check them out in The Heavy Purse Store.

Photos courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net

March 25, 2013  •  38 Comments  •  Children and Money

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  1. Monday, March 25th, 2013
    Well put together Shannon. I think it is extremely important to teach your kids about money. I plan on showing my son my money mistakes. The best way to learn is by leading. If you don't feel comfortable talking about money because you don't understand your finances, then find someone that will help you.
    • Monday, March 25th, 2013
      Thanks, Grayson! I understand the desire to hide our imperfections from our children, but the reality is they already know we're not perfect. :) Being honest and talking about our mistakes and what we've learned is the best to way to help kids avoid repeating our mistakes. You are spot-on that there are so many people willing to help parents who feel lost with their own finances. I'm hoping with financial literacy gaining steam that more parents will see the light and start taking action.
  2. Monday, March 25th, 2013
    I'm one of those people who wished my parents would have talked to me more about money! Great article Shannon!
    • Monday, March 25th, 2013
      Thanks, Tonya! It's such a common missed opportunity that I'm hoping we can reverse the trend. It would make a huge difference for both parents and kids.
  3. Monday, March 25th, 2013
    Great post Shannon! I completely agree that even if it's taught in schools that it does not let us off the hook. Kids are sponges and will emulate what they see and it can only benefit them if you teach them in a wise and thoughtful way. I think all three of your points are key, though I love #2. I think it can make it real for them and can be a great way for them to learn about working and saving for something. Great post!
    • Monday, March 25th, 2013
      Thanks, John! I love the idea of financial literacy being taught in school because I believe it will open many parents eyes and start changing their own money habits. But parents cannot let schools do it all; they have to play an active role. Kids LOVE talking about money and understanding how it can be used to bring joy to themselves and others. They quickly learn how powerful it is and you, as parents, want to be the one to shape how they use it in an integrity or value-based way.
  4. Monday, March 25th, 2013
    My parents didn't talk to me about money, but I am not going to make the same mistake with my daughter. She is still just a toddler, but as she gets older, I will start early with the subject.
    • Monday, March 25th, 2013
      That's fantastic, Mackenzie. It's what I did with my daughters. They constantly amaze me with how well they handle their money and make thoughtful decisions on how to use it.
  5. Monday, March 25th, 2013
    Money was definitely a taboo subject with my parents and my friends parents as well when we were growing up. It's really easy to get my mom to open up about finances now, I wish she had been that way when I was younger. Maybe I wouldn't have had to learn EVERYTHING on my own.
    • Monday, March 25th, 2013
      The good news you won't repeat her mistakes and are already teaching and demonstrating good money habits to your children. :)
  6. Monday, March 25th, 2013
    I imagine parents want to pretend they are perfect in front of their kids, and financially or not, that is one of the greatest damage you can do to your kids. They will not understand why they fail since their parents were so perfect.
    • Monday, March 25th, 2013
      Absolutely, Pauline. They will wonder why it's so hard when Mom and Dad made it look effortless. Parents may think they're doing a favor by not talking about money, but they are actually doing a disservice. While you certainly don't want to burden your children with your money woes, you want to help them avoid creating their own future money problems and that starts with open communication.
  7. Monday, March 25th, 2013
    My kids have a DVD set and book called "The Money Mammals" that uses fun songs and stories to teach about saving, setting goals, and frugality. It's really awesome and they love watching it!
    • Monday, March 25th, 2013
      Thanks for sharing, Holly! I'll have to check it out.
  8. Monday, March 25th, 2013
    I think #3 touches on a bigger issue. Many parents are financially illiterate. It's tough to properly teach a topic when you don't know the material.

    That's the great thing about all of these personal finance/frugality blogs - promoting financial literacy. I hope I'll have some knowledge to offer my children, and their children.
    • Monday, March 25th, 2013
      I agree, Jacob. I think many parents don't want to admit their own lack of financial knowledge, which harms both themselves and their children. There are so many great websites, tools and professionals who can help parents educate themselves and their children. It pleases me to see financial literacy becoming mainstream and on people's radars - it gives me great hope that we can start making a real a difference and change poor money habits and beliefs.
  9. Monday, March 25th, 2013
    Absolutely true about learning from mistakes, Shannon. Great post!
    • Monday, March 25th, 2013
      Thanks, Tony! We all make mistakes, so we might as well learn from them—right? :)
  10. Monday, March 25th, 2013
    Great post Shannon.

    I always talk to my kids about the money mistakes I made as a teen and when we started our married life. I do not want them doing the things I did, especially with the direction the economy is headed, I want them to be financially secure.

    It's never too early to teach the kiddos :) Hope you had a great day and wishin' you a great week!
    • Monday, March 25th, 2013
      You're a great mom, Corina! Your kids are listening and are definitely going to hear your voice when they make money decisions. One of the best gifts we can give our kids is to teach them how to be money smart so they can enjoy long-term financial well-being regardless of how much money they earn. You have a wonderful week too!
  11. Justin
    Monday, March 25th, 2013
    Good points. How can we expect our children to learn about money if we refuse to discuss it. Especially the first issue. If you tell your children your mistakes and explain how you should have handled the situation then they may not make that same mistake.
    • Monday, March 25th, 2013
      Absolutely Justin! So many parents are unaware they should have these conversations with their kids because their own parents never did. Yet almost every adult's money hang-up stems from childhood observations. Having open, honest money conversations is the first step to building a healthy relationship with money.
  12. Tuesday, March 26th, 2013
    Shannon, love this post! One of the hardest things we did was admit our money mistakes to our kids, but it opened up a whole new door of communication, teaching and bonding with our kids. Now they are our biggest cheerleaders as we work to be debt free. Have a great day, friend!
    • Tuesday, March 26th, 2013
      Congratulations on being brave and upfront with your kids when you and your husband decided to make financial independence a priority. I'm sure it was difficult, but it sounds like it brought you closer as a family, which is the most common response. I find whenever a family can get united behind a common goal - whether to eliminate debt or save money for a family vacation - their bond becomes even closer when they work together. You and your family will become even stronger and your kids will learn so much by sharing in your journey.
  13. Mandy @ MoneyMasterMom
    Tuesday, March 26th, 2013
    I have to agree with Jacob how some parents don't feel confident enough to teach their kids about money. I teach at a local highschool and have had a few math classes over the years. Almost always when I come across a student who "hates math" and "can't do math," I ask them why and they reply that one of their parents "hated math and couldn't do it either."
    Great post Shannon
    Time to break the cycle!
    • Tuesday, March 26th, 2013
      I agree too, Mandy. A lot of parents cite time as the reason why they don't teach their kids about money but I think it goes deeper than that. They don't feel confident or good about their money decisions, so how can they teach their own children? I understand their dilemma but there are so places to go for help. It doesn't surprise me that students who "can't do math" have parents who can't do it either. It is time to stop cycle.
  14. Tuesday, March 26th, 2013
    Great post Shannon! Just curious - how much detail do you suggest that parents should share? High level facts or specific details such as mom makes this much money a year and dad makes this much money a year, and the house costs this much, and so forth?

    I understand your point about teaching kids money skills and hoping they will keep them in mind as they grow up and make choices on their own. But the other thing I think about when I read those words is how some people are just naturally born to be frugal and save money and some are natural born spenders. My sister's kids are like that actually. She has one of each, and even now in their late 20's they are still the same.
    • Tuesday, March 26th, 2013
      Great questions Sicorra! They are worthy of a post, which I plan to do in the near future so thanks for the idea! How detailed you get with your kids depends on the age of your children. You can be more general with younger kids, but try to answer questions directly whenever possible (i.e. Taylor asking me how much we spent in each store). With older children (tweens/teens) I would start getting into specifics to help prepare them manage their own household.

      Yes, some people are frugal by nature and others far less so! While a person may be a spender by nature, I think we can also nurture them to be a mindful spender where they still think through each purchase and live within in their means. They may need a bit more guidance to get into that mindset.
    • Friday, March 29th, 2013
      I loved this post, but will also be looking forward to the Sicorra-inspired one! It's something I wonder about myself...and often. :)
  15. Wednesday, March 27th, 2013
    Great post! You're right there is a lot more information about money out there, than when we were kids, but there also needs to be a willingness to seek it. And that's where we, as the parents come in. Improving our own financial literacy and sharing that information with our children is one of the best things we can do for them.
    • Wednesday, March 27th, 2013
      I couldn't agree more. There are lots of reasons (or excuses) why people don't seek out this kind of information. Giving your kids a better life is a great reason to increase your financial literacy. I feel like the winds are shifting and more and more people are beginning to recognize they need to get their financial house in order.
  16. Wednesday, March 27th, 2013
    I definitely plan on sharing these types of things with my future children in an effort to help them avoid some of the silly mistakes I made. That being said, I'd also want my children to understand that mistakes are inevitable but you should learn from them and be prepared for them.

    I was hesitant for a while to share my blog with people in my "real" life because of the stigma attached with money and how horrendous I used to be at managing it. Now, I proudly tell the URL and laugh a bit when people seem so surprised to hear about my past struggles.
    • Wednesday, March 27th, 2013
      You're absolutely right - everyone makes money mistakes, including our kids! My hope is they make fewer mistakes and when they do - recognize it and figure a way out of it, rather than wallow in it and dig a deeper hole. Not that any of us have ever done that. :) It definitely isn't easy sharing our mistakes, but you're helping a lot of people through your blog.
  17. Thursday, March 28th, 2013
    I may not have kids Shannon but I'm happy to hear that they'll be teaching this in school. They should have been doing that a long time ago. Maybe the guys running our government need to take a few classes.

    I know in my family we didn't talk about it. I just was always told we couldn't afford it and that was the end of it. I think if kids had a better understanding then maybe that could also help shape their lives and what they want to do with them.

    Great share and very important topic.

    ~Adrienne
    • Thursday, March 28th, 2013
      Thanks Adrienne! I agree understanding how money works will help kids recognize decisions their parents make aren't intended to make them free deprived, but instead they were being responsible with their money. Too often kids think "no" means they are deprived. More often than not - it couldn't be further from the truth.
  18. Sunday, May 26th, 2013
    Or how about, "we don't have time for that!" A lot of parents just really put it off because it is boring and they think their kids will act just like them. The sad part is, many don't even know how reckless they are with money.
    • Tuesday, May 28th, 2013
      Agreed. Sadly, many parents have no idea the poor money example they are setting for their children because they, themselves, are unaware. However, I do find many parents are very receptive once you bring the need for financial education to their attention. They want the best for their kids and that means being financially literate.
Shannon Ryan SHANNON RYAN, CFP®
  • Meet Shannon

    "As a Certified Financial Planner, it is my passion to help individuals and families build a healthy relationship with money. I look forward to helping you raise financially confident kids.” - Shannon Ryan
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